Welsh club transformation gets the Savage touch

Former Premier League star Robbie Savage helped a Welsh amateur football team transform their home pitch this month.

The former Wales international visited Graig y Rhacca FC - whose website is powered by Club Website - and helped local primary school children and other volunteers put the finishing touches to a £7,500 project to erect a new fence around the club's home pitch as part of the Transform Your Patch scheme.

The Caerphilly club's pitch has been in a near-permanent state of disrepair in recent years as a result of vandalism caused by vehicles driving across the playing surface.

The village club has seen its four teams reduced to just one and was on the verge of folding before the scheme - run by Britvic and PepsiCo in collaboration with Groundwork, the UK's leading environmental regeneration charity - came to their aid.

Graig y Rhacca manager Rob Bailey said: "We have had terrible problems over the years with the pitch being cut up by mindless quad bikers, car drivers and other vehicles cutting up the pitch.

"We had to get the pitch repaired on many occasions and had to play the games away so that the repairs could be made.

"About six months ago I was on the point of quitting because of the problems we were having, but with this now we can hopefully build the football club up again."

The club were offered a fresh start with a project grant of £5,000 from the drinks giants along with £2,500 provided by Groundwork Caerphilly, Bedwas Trethomas, Machen Community Council and the Communities First Council.

Things are now looking up for the club both on and off the pitch.

Not only have they managed to sell nine of the 10 advertising slots on the perimeter fence but, earlier this month, the team reached the final of the Senior Cup with a 4-0 win over local rivals and league champions Ponthir.

There are also plans to start an under 18s side next season. "We can re-start the building process safe in the knowledge we have a decent pitch to play on," said Bailey.

After visiting for the day, the star of Strictly Come Dancing and host of football phone-in 6-0-6 described the initiative as "fantastic".

"You can just see how much it means for football in this area," he said.

"The turnout from the community is amazing. I'm delighted to put my name to this campaign."

Transform your patch is helping to transform outdoor spaces across the UK. As well as football pitches, communal parks, picnic areas and skate parks will also benefit from the initiative. To find out more visit transformyourpatch.com.

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